Peru: Cultural Advice
by Mary Anne Thompson
Peru is a thousand-year-old country steeped in tradition and a grand history. Peruvians are proud of the long history of their culture and the level of development achieved by the Inca Empire. A great number of people, however, believe their country’s traditions have been degraded by corrupt leaders and poor examples from teachers. There is a current movement from some employers, therefore, to promote honest, hard-working values that will help the country create good citizens and good workers.
Peruvians, in general, are very friendly and help foreigners feel comfortable. Since ruins from the Incas and other ancient cultures remain, Peru is a popular tourist destination. Working in Peru is a different experience but adjustment is not difficult, thanks to its people.
The capital city of Lima holds more than a quarter of Peru's population, most of mestizo and European descent. In the Andes highlands live the indigenous Quechua people. Politically and economically there is a large gap between the wealthy elite of European descent and the poor indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, Peru today is characterized by its great ethnic diversity.
Peruvian society is very family-oriented. Furthermore, this emphasis on the family extends to the business world. Although it is not necessary, it is very helpful to establish a relationship before doing business in Peru.
In general, Peruvian society is influenced by Catholic traditions, so it is good to be respectful of special Catholic holidays. The population consists of more than 90 percent practicing Catholics. Peruvians have a love of ceremony, visible in the many Catholic celebrations.
Peruvians may also display a somewhat fatalistic attitude, believing one has no real control over events. Peru's history and its fickle environment, subject to earthquakes, storms, drought and flood, probably shape this worldview.
A large segment of economic activity in Peru is within the ‘informal sector’ or ‘informal market,’ that is, economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by the government and is not included in the Gross National Product (GNP). More than half of the economically active population belongs to the informal market, so it is not a surprise to find illegal copies of books, music or software in many places in the country.